When the wooden grandstands at Waterhouse Field were deemed unsafe after the 2016 season, Biddeford High senior Cody Saucier wondered if he would be able to follow in a long family tradition of performing at the iconic neighborhood stadium.

“I was actually really worried I’d never be able to play at Waterhouse,” said Saucier, a wide receiver/cornerback/kicker. “But the community really stepped up and now we’ve got this beautiful field with amazing turf and these nice bleachers, great sound (system).”

Friday night the Tigers (1-0) will be home against a talented team from Cony High (1-0) for the first football game since installation of the new bleachers and artificial turf was finished this summer. The game will put a capstone on a whirlwind 18-month project that relied heavily on community-driven volunteers.

The Tigers played on Waterhouse’s old natural-grass field in 2017 but without permanent grandstands.

“Fortunately we got to play on it but it wasn’t the same,” said center/defensive tackle Marty Martel, a senior captain. “It was a construction zone but hey, we got to play on it.”

“My grandfather played there, my father played there, all my aunts and uncles played there,” Saucier said. “It was good I got to play on their turf and now I get to have my own little legacy on this turf.”

At midfield, the Tiger Pride logo stretches 20 yards wide across the new artificial surface and a large, modern scoreboard stands at one end.

Martel said he’s a traditionalist and wasn’t sure how he felt about replacing natural grass with artificial turf.

“Now that I’ve seen it, it’s got to be the best field I’ve ever seen,” Martel said.

The new home grandstand, with a steep 30-degree pitch, has 19 rows of seats, is 50 yards long and has a seating capacity of 1,550. The more modest visitors’ grandstand holds another 500 fans.

The front of the home grandstand is less than two feet from the edge of the artificial turf and less than 10 yards from the football sideline.

Fans are, “going to see the best stadium in Maine. I have no doubt about that,” said Brian Curit, Biddeford’s football coach. “You’re even closer to the action than you were before.”

Assistant coaches will take a 50-step, three-floor hike to the press box.

New letters have been installed to spell out Tiger Pride on the front of the press box. Vandals stole the 10 letters last month.

LESS THAN a quarter into his first game as a varsity coach, Matt Nelson of York had to deal with what every coach dreads: a serious injury to a key senior.

On York’s second offensive drive, senior quarterback Dawson Gundlah injured his knee. Gundlah had completed his first five passes.

Nelson called on 6-foot-1 sophomore Teagan Hynes, who came on and threw four touchdown passes in a 41-9 romp at Gray-New Gloucester.

“We’ve been giving Teagan reps and he’s been working really hard on learning the offense, and because he was preparing so well he was able to step right in,” Nelson said.

Hynes’ TD passes came in a variety of ways. The first came on a rollout to his left near the goal line, the second was an alert throw after escaping pressure, and then came a well-thrown deep ball down the sideline.

“He avoided the pressure and he really commanded the offense and we didn’t miss a beat,” Nelson said.

INJURIES ALSO HIT Brunswick in its 27-25 win against Falmouth. Junior running back/linebacker Owen Richardson and junior middle linebacker Jack Harvey will both be out in the 6- to 8-week range. Richardson, who rushed for over 1,200 yards as a sophomore, broke his collarbone. Harvey dislocated a shoulder.

Brunswick is at Skowhegan in a key early-season Class B North game Friday night. Skowhegan was blitzed by Kennebunk in its opener, 62-19.

“We’re expecting a different Skowhegan team,” said Brunswick Coach Dan Cooper. “We feel there’s games we’ve got to win and this is one of them. Playoff seeding is very important. A win like this could prove to be a home (playoff) game.”

BRUNSWICK’S WIN was the first for a Class B North team against Class B South since the league started playing up to two crossover games last season. It was also a rare close game.

Only 10.3 percent of the openers (4 of 39) across the state were decided by seven or fewer points. Nearly 72 percent (28 of 39) were by more than 20 points, and 46 percent (18 of 39) were 30-plus margins. The average margin of victory was 26.9 points.

Lopsided scores are not new in Maine. Over the past six seasons the average victory margin has ranged from a low of 23.8 (2017) to a high of 26.0 (2016).

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: SteveCCraig

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